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Kickstarting the Au-H Bond: Towards Cooperative Reversible H2 Activation at Gold (ROCCHIGIANIL_U21SCIEC)

School of Chemistry

Norwich United Kingdom Inorganic Chemistry Organic Chemistry Synthetic Chemistry

About the Project

Gold I and III complexes are successfully applied in a wide range of catalytic transformations. However, applications in H2 activation and hydrogenation catalysis have been overlooked for a long time, owing to the reluctance of homogeneous gold complexes to undergo oxidative addition of H–H bonds. Very recently, we found novel chemical reactions that exploit the cooperation between gold complexes and mild bases to split molecular hydrogen heterolytically forming well defined gold hydrides, paving the way to the potential use of these complexes in catalysis. 

This challenging PhD project will build on these initial findings, focusing on new synthetic and mechanistic developments towards the heterolytic splitting of H2 by well-defined Au(I) and Au(III) complexes. In particular, the candidate will target novel labile adducts between gold complexes and Lewis bases, and will exploit them for cleaving H-H bonds into hydride and proton ions. These elementary steps will form the basis of potential catalysts for hydrogen delivery to unsaturated substrates. State-of-the-art spectroscopic techniques will be extensively used for the characterization of products, reactive intermediates and mechanisms. The successful applicant will receive training in synthetic organic and organometallic chemistry, advanced spectroscopic techniques and solid-state characterization of sensitive organometallic species.  

Please contact Dr Rocchigiani for further info (

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please go here

This is a PhD programme. The start date is 1st October 2021. The mode of study is full time. The studentship length is 3 years.

Entry requirements: 2:1 Chemistry

Funding Notes

This PhD project is in a competition for a 3 year UEA funded studentship covering stipend (£15,285 pa, 2020-21), tuition fees (Home only) and research costs. International applicants (EU/non-EU) are eligible for UEA funded studentships but they are required to fund the difference between Home and International tuition fees (which for 2021-22 are detailed on the University’s fees pages at View Website)

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